More from Samisen 1976

Sarah Harvey… I have received some lovely comments about the recording I made with my first band Samisen, which is really nice….so here is another one from my musical past and another from the 1970s….I am often quite shy about posting these things up because I ain’t one for making a song and dance about things…. but here goes anyway! I definitely wrote the main riff for this one!! Its another prog rock offering, this time an instrumental and a prog thrashy one called ‘Commercial Cash-In’. Another one that I may re-work one day and perhaps perform…. if I can find anyone who wants a go at it. Its SAMISEN again. I think this one was recorded at Ore Centre in 1976!! ‘I have no idea why I called it ‘Commercial Cash-In’. Its prog rock….. what do you expect…. anything goes
– Sarah Harvey (Lead Guitar – Happy Maureens)
– Ralphy (Rhythm Guitar and backing vocals)
– Bernie Smirnoff (Drums – Kingbathmat)
– Conan Howard (Bass Guitar)
Just remember, its 1976…. reel-to-reel tape…. I am still proud of it and love the people I have been in down the years, and proud of the band I currently play with, The Happy Maureens.

Pete Fisher… sounds great Sarah! The wonders of reel to reel tape! Sounds similar to the recordings I did on reel to reel back in ’72-’74 – that wonderful rehearsal room reverb, and of course the same noisy drummer…some great guitar happening here too though…a real feast of good riffs!

Sarah Harvey… Thanks Pete. Coincidentally I thought about you and Pueblo playing in the 70s. My current band this weekend have been asked to play at Bexhill Community centre at a function in October and my thoughts went back to you Roger Carey and Bernie playing there at their Youth Club. Really happy memories and some great tunes you played along with some great musicianship, not always appreciated by the youthful attendees that night…… but I loved it

Pete Fisher… You’re welcome Sarah! Nice that you have such good memories of us back then…we were a very raw outfit, probably under-rehearsed and still lacking confidence in front of audiences – lot of strong competition around back then…I actually still have a “little red book” full of lyrics and chord charts, but also a kind of gig diary for Mae West and Pueblo. When I get a few spare minutes I’ll scan it and post it here!

Conan Howard… Conan here, I seem to remember this tune went on for at least 20 minutes , with slow bits and fast bits.. what a journey that number was at the time. probably a good idea to wind it up short of the ejaculation point

A Brief History of Samisen by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey… A brief history of Samisen. Thank you Peter Thomson for providing this rare recording playing live during the 1970s. This is a video featuring local Hastings band Samisen who played in the area during the latter part of the 1970s. It tells of a brief history behind the band and includes a rare recording of them playing live. The venue of the recording is unknown as is the line-up of the recording but it is thought to be, Graham Barratt on vocals, Dave Shirley on lead guitar, Bernard Jeffery on drums and Steve Turner on bass.

Alan Esdaile… Well done Sarah, great information. The last comment made my smile, about some of us have changed over the years.

Pete Thomson…. Further to Sarah’s video accompanied by Hard Monkeys, I can confirm that the track was recorded by me on a tin-pot, little, one-track machine during a practice session at Ore Centre. I have also been in touch with Steve Turner who confirms he was the bassist at the time.

Dave Nattress… This is a wonderful little video history. Although I was vocalist in the last line-up of Samisen for a couple of years or so, I actually never knew the history of the band – thinking, when I saw Samisen a few times before I joined, they were Hastings home-grown – but not so! Even when I was in Damaris, Samisen,along with Stallion of course was a local band to look up to and after the demise of Damaris, I was delighted to audition for Samisen after Graham Barrett (RIP) left I was delighted  to get the gig. I remember all the guys well, although regretably I’ve lost touch but truly hope some of us can meet up soon. I remember all the gigs well – albeit 35 years ago!! Once we (almost) had a Summer tour – 4 gigs in about 10 days. Rehearsals at Ore Centre and at Dave Kent’s parents’ shop in Kings Road, St Leonards and support to Hat Trick at Ore Centre. Great days, re-lived again thanks to this piece of history. All power to this website, Alan Esdaile, Peter Thompson and my old friend, Sarah Harvey.

Sarah Harvey… Well I am trying (thus far in vain) to organise a reunion gig which would if nothing else be great fun. So if any of the many past Samisen members want to have a go….you know where I am! If I don’t hear from you then just remember I am a great nag-bag nowadays! 🙂

Wendy Weaver… Great video Sarah, ‘specially the last bit 😉 x

Samisen Return to Rock A Nore – The lost recordings 1976

Sarah Harvey… Recorded at THE BOX in Silverhill. Samisen ‘Rock-A-Nore’ in 1976!! The background to this song was actually based on Conan Howard’s (Bass Guitar) story about where he lost his virginity rather than any sentimental connection with the iconic Hastings area. I am a prog rocker at heart and I write songs and have done since the 1970s…..and here is the proof!! In the 1970s I wrote many prog rock songs, and most of them were in the epic prog-rock style. In those days that’s what you did as a band. One day I will rework them and perhaps perform them…. who knows. This video depicts the various line-ups of my very first band SAMISEN. The song was recorded at THE BOX in Silverhill in 1976!! ‘Rock-A-Nore’ is a prog rock piece written by Sarah Harvey and Conan Howard based on Conan’s story about where he lost his virginity rather than any sentimental connection with the iconic Hastings location.
– Graham Barrett (Vocals – RIP)
– Sarah Harvey (Lead Guitar – Happy Maureens)
– Ralphy (Rhythm Guitar and backing vocals)
– Bernie Smirnoff (Drums – Kingbathmat)
– Conan Howard (Bass Guitar)
I am proud of the songs I have written down the years

Jan Warren… Me too Sarah, I am Prog and Psychedelic Rock too, I remember meeting you at the SMART meet in Hastings, hope to meet you again soon!

Conan Howard… sorry SARAH, you only helped to write this, as it was my original idea.. CONAN HOWARD , as proved by all the bass work.. now go to the back of the class and sit on the naughty step you bad girl … love Conan x

Sarah Harvey… Conan has become such a grumpy old wotsit in his old age 😂 I did say we co-wrote it and ok, if you want the rights to the original idea I won’t get my lawyer on to you this time. 😜 xxx

Peter Thomson… Always enjoyed hearing (and watching) you lot knock this one out.

Conan Howard… must admit though Graham Barrett did come up with all the words,, good old Graham ,bless you where ever you are now. WHAT a Hoot  SARAH ,good stuff indeed . all meant in good fun.. I have the right to be grumpy at 70 years old , what else is there? love Conan xx

Spooky Tooth – Hastings Pier 6th July 1968

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supplied by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey… Spooky Tooth formed in October 1967 and played on the pier on July 6th, 1968. 1969’s Spooky Two LP was the last album release by the original lineup. It included the song “Better By You, Better Than Me”, which was covered by Judas Priest on their 1978 release Stained Class. Many different line-ups for Spooky Tooth but after the original lin-up split in 1970, the band reformed in September 1972 with a different line-up. The best known member of these line-ups (from March 1973 to September 1974) was Mick Jones (guitar / vocals), later in Foreigner. Also from February — May 1974, Mike Patto (vocals) who replaced Harrison for the 1974 release The Mirror. The group then split again in November 1974.

Alan Esdaile… I remember Die Laughing doing a great version of Better By You Better Than Me.

Mick O’Dowd… I’ve only just caught up with them i’m afraid to say. Their version of “I Am The Walrus” is a blaster and being a bit of a “purist” that is saying something.

John Storer… Sarah, you forgot to mention Gary Wright …. he was the principal songwriter, went on to have a worldwide solo hit with “Dream Weaver” and reformed the band in 2004 for a successful tour. He has also been one of the mainstays of Ringo Starr’s backing band

Sarah Harvey… Hey John…..good spot! Sorry for the omission. Will be doing a Spooky compilation on my Hastings Pier Music Show in the early Spring. 🙂

Nigel Ford… And what about Bassist Greg Ridley, ‘ went on to join Humble Pie at the request of Steve Marriott! “Better by Better than me” was also in the set done by Maidstone band Krishna Kudu at the Battle dances.

Robert Searle… Did anyone mention Luther Grosvener,i think thats how you spell his name,on lead guitar. He left to join Mott the Hoople as Ariel Bender..

Bernard Tiltman… I can’t remember Spooky Tooth at Hastings Pier but I can remember them playing Hastings College. I was there from 1965 to 1970 so it could have been anytime between 67-70. Still remember them as one of the best if not the best live bands I have ever seen.

Read moreSpooky Tooth – Hastings Pier 6th July 1968

Curved Air – Hailsham Pavilion – November 4th, 2017 review by Sarah Harvey

photos by Sarah Harvey

Most concerts I go to, I generally have an idea of what I am expecting and it was no different with Curved Air at Hailsham Pavilion on Saturday 4th November, 2017. The last time I had seen Curved Air was almost 43 years ago on Hastings Pier, coincidentally almost to the day, and in all realism hadn’t expected to re-capture that 1970s flavour since the only member of the band who remains from those days is the wonderful vocalist Sonja Kristina. So what, I wondered, would this concert deliver for me? Hailsham Pavilion is a wonderful intimate venue with wonderful acoustics, and clearly an ideal setting for a band who deserved some concentration, since this was progressive rock in its purest form.

I cast my mind back to a few weeks before when I made the mistake of paying to go and see WASP at the White Rock Theatre. I had never been a great fan of WASP but thought I should go and support a concert by an internationally-renowned band in my home town. As it turned out, they appeared apathetic and seemed to have some contempt for the audience, and that was after they turned up late and without as much as a ‘sorry’. They then continued their contempt by dishing up just 75 minutes of mediocre music.
I know this isn’t a review of WASP, but I just wanted to highlight the difference with Curved Air, whose approach to the audience was entirely different. There was no such short-changing from these wonderful musicians and they produced a stunning set of music for a full two hours.

The set flowed through a complex mixture of old and new music that thoroughly demonstrated the wonderful playing of the various band members and of course the mystical singing and movement of Sonja Kristina. Golden oldies such as ‘Stay Human’, ‘Metamorphis’, ‘Back Street Luv’, ‘It Happened Today’, ‘Marie Antionette’, ‘The Purple Speed Queen’, ‘Vivaldi’ were interspersed with newer offerings such as ‘Time Games’ and new compositions generated with the current line-up in mind. Every song performed was played incredibly tightly and the togetherness of the band was something to behold. One of the key elements of Curved Air has always been the violin and if Paul Sax’s facial expressions were anything to go by, he put his heart and soul into his playing. Paul’s violin came through so powerfully hence ensuring it remained a key element in the band.

Kit Morgan’s sensational guitar playing left me with that feeling I have felt so often since the 70s, in that I should probably give up playing the guitar. I was spellbound. I am not an expert on Bass Guitarists, but he looked pretty good. Happily I had an expert in Iain Cobby sitting right next door to me. His colourful adjectives left me in no doubt that Chris Harris knew his stuff. I am also not an expert on keyboardists, but I know what I like to hear and the keyboard pieces in Metamorphosis were something quite special . Happily another area of Iain Cobby’s expertise although probably didn’t need the colourful adjectives this time around to verify. A special word for drummer and percussionist Andy Tween, only his second gig with the band having replaced Florian Pilkington-Miska who had recently left the band after nine years. His timing was spot on all the way through all compositions, some of which were amazingly complicated .

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying concert. I referred earlier to the apathetic WASP concert some weeks ago and the contrast that was served up by Curved Air. The band members of Curved Air all made a point of coming down to meet the concert-goers after the show and how nice it was to briefly speak to the thoroughly pleasant violinist Paul Sax, who made a point of thanking us for coming to the show. I said at the beginning of this review that I hadn’t expected to re-capture that 1970s flavour of going to prog rock gigs. In the end, Curved Air took me right back and beyond into the future. WASP? Look and learn. Curved Air? Legends indeed!  Sarah Harvey – 09/11/2017

Andy Qunta… Thanks for that great review, Sarah! Would love to see Curved Air again. Love their stuff!

Phil Thornton… thanks for posting Sarah !

Jim Breeds… A Phantasmagorical review!

 Peter Fairless… Thank you, Sarah

Tony Davis… Wish I’d been there. Excellent review Sarah

Alan Esdaile… good review, wish I had gone.

Jim Breeds… SMART delegation needs to go en masse to the next one

Colin Norton… Great review, Sarah!

Tim Moose Bruce… If they come to this venue again I will definitely be there.

Pete Fisher… good review Sarah…saw them in London in 1974…btw there will always be people who are better than you on whatever instrument you play, so don’t let that discourage you, let it inspire you to carry on enjoying playing…it’s not about how good you are!

Dave Nattress… Sarah, loved that review of Curved Air. I too saw them at the pier – maybe the same concert as you. I’m unsure whether they did the pier more than once. We’re not really old enough are we for it to have been 43 years ago? Regards to Mr Cobby as well.

Iain Cobby… Thank you Dave, and your good self. Spot on Sarah, great review, I couldn’t agree more. Sorry Mr Davis, your loss was my gain, but this was truly meant to be. One of the best gigs I’ve been to in many years and as I recall tighter that the original band.

J Morris… Last saw them in 76 have tickets for them early in the new year , I can’t wait , thanks for the review . Sometimes disappointing to see old bands but doesn’t seem to be an issue with curved air

Hawklords – The Carlisle, Hastings – November 5th, 2017 review by Sarah Harvey

photos by Sarah Harvey

I make no secret of the fact that I like nothing about bonfire and firework season and when the chance to go and see some legendary space-rockers in my home town of Hastings on November 5th presented itself, it was the ideal escape.This particular concert at The Carlisle had been advertised months before in many national prog rock forums and gig guides although having seen no real advertising locally for it up two weeks before I started to wonder if it was actually going to happen. I personally only noticed a poster appearing about 10 days beforehand and this lack of publicity probably goes some way to explaining an attendance lower than I expected.

For those who are not aware of the history of the Hawklords, they were originally active between 1978 and 1979 and were formed of members of Hawkwind, who were inactive during that period, namely Robert Calvert on vocals, Dave Brock on guitar and Simon King on drums. They were joined by Harvey Bainbridge on bass and Martin Griffin on drums who were both from a local Devon group named Ark. The band was completed by the addition of former Pilot keyboardist Steve Swindells. In 1978, the band released their first full studio album 25 Years On and as far as I am aware, the band last appeared in Hastings on 25 November 1978 as part of their 42 date UK tour in October and November of that year. In 2008 a new Hawklords formed around bass player Harvey Bainbridge and ex-Hawkwind vocalist Ron Tree, who were joined by drummer Dave Pearce (ex-Bevis Frond), guitarist and keyboard player Jerry Richards, and bassist Tom Ashurst. Apart from Ron Tree who had mysteriously gone absent before the start of the tour, this was the line-up the appeared at The Carlisle.

The set began with a piece called ‘Out Of Phase’. Having seen Hawkwind earlier in the year at Folkestone, I could have been forgiven for thinking this was Part Two of that concert because this was Space Rock in its purest form. If you asked me to define Space Rock I am not sure I could do it… apart from its spaceship like electronic noises acting as a backdrop… it is just one of those rock genres that you just know it when you hear it. Jerry Richards supplied the wonderful driving guitar chords and licks in typical space-rock fashion and was more than capable of providing the band’s lead vocals. As frontman for the band he also provided some humorous wit throughout his introductions. Bassist Tom Ashurst looks the youngest member of the band, and along with drummer Dave Pearce they supplied the gritty strength that the music demanded from its backing. Harvey Bainbridge looked like the mad professor at his keyboards and his witty vocal accompaniment to ‘Whisperer’s Downfall’, a track from their latest album, rather reinforced this for me. Indeed, having whispered to my friend Chrissy Brand standing next to me regarding my observations during the song, I became the subject of Harvey’s vocals…..’Look, she’s whispering’. It was like being caught in the act by teacher! Rather interestingly throughout the gig, I became aware of a number of recognisable musicians around me and it seems that Hastings has somewhat become a bit of a magnet in music terms. Members of Bevis Frond, Liam Glenocky (Steeleye Span) and Adrian (Ade) Shaw (ex- Hawkwind, Country Joe McDonald, Arthur Brown, and the Deviants.) took their place in the audience alongside me. The members of Bevis Frond were clearly there in support of their ex-drummer Dave Pearce, and towards the end of the set Adrian Shaw made an appearance on bass during ‘Flight’. The set had an interesting mix of older and newer compositions although I only detected ‘Free Fall’ as a remnant from their earliest days and curiously only ‘Ghost In My Machine’, ‘Whisperer’s Downfall’, ‘New Space’ from their most recent release (Hawklords Six). Also included in the set were a few cover versions ‘The Right Stuff’ (Robert Calvert song) and ‘Coded Languages’ (Hawkwind). Tom Mahler’s psychedelic lighting produced the ideal backdrop whilst Joe Rytlewski took charge of the sound, which all resulted in a kaleidoscope of intergalactic audio pleasure.

So all in all, a thoroughly entertaining evening that provided the perfect alternative to rockets of a different, and rather less attractive variety. I had said earlier that I had seen Hawkwind earlier in the year and found it a thoroughly enjoyable concert. To see Hawklords as some sort of poor-man’s Hawkwind would be an insult to them because to my delight I found Hawklords equally enjoyable with an equally enjoyable variety of space rock. Whilst I am no nearer to defining space rock after seeing The Hawklords, I continue to stand by my theory that I will always know it when I hear and see it. I certainly heard and saw it on Guy Fawkes night …. it is alive and kicking and in good hands with The Hawklords.                              Sarah Harvey – November 2017

Dave Nattress… As with your review of Curved Air Sarah, I found this review really entertaining, a great read. Makes me wish I’d been there. My (known), or self-acknowledged space-rock experience is pretty much confined to Hawkwind from the several pier gigs and festival appearances. One festival at Nutley many, many, years ago there was a band called Amon Din (I think), who I think may have had some association with Amon Duul but then maybe they just had a contrived name. I don’t know though on reflection I must have some space rock in the collection somewhere. For sure, I’ll dust off “In Search of Space” later for starters. It will be a dust off as I only have it on vinyl. I might even try and read the log again. What about some Flaming Lips, is that spacey – don’t mention him, or just weird?

Arrows – Hastings Pier 23rd August 1975

ad supplied by Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey… This day August 23rd, 1975. The Arrows at Hastings Pier. Also take a look at next week….Joe Loss and his Orchestra….not to mention the wrestling legend Mick McManus.

Mick O’Dowd… Worked on this one. The Arrows were a real nice wholesome bunch of americans & a pleasure to meet.

Mark Randall… I have a feeling that the Randall tribe, led by ol’ Ma Randall were at the wrestling match

Alan Esdaile… Above is the promo photo I still got, when we worked with the band. They also had the original hit with I love rock n roll which went on to be a bigger hit for Joan Jett.

Mark Randall… I recall their 4:25 pm TV show

Peter Fairless… They loved rock’n’roll, you know?

Alan Esdaile… Everyone thinks that Joan Jett’s version was the original Peter but this came out a few years earlier and I’m sure Arrows wrote it.

Peter Fairless… Yes, Alan, it was written by Arrows bandmates, Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker, originally as a ‘B’ side but, as so often in those days, it got flipped. They had two big hits, the other was ‘Touch Too Much’, Although they were on RAK, I always thought they were a serious act.

Jon Martin… I was there then

Liz Turner… So was i

Julie Morris… Me too!

Jo Turner… Yup I was with Liz Turner

Liz Turner… Why on earth did I fancy them!!

Julie Morris… Lead singer was very pretty Liz! Just looked up – the other two are dead!

Andy Qunta… Actually I’m more impressed with the wrestling bill! (No offence to the Arrows of course!)

Alan Esdaile… Perhaps Smokie cancelled as they were not happy with their name being spelt wrong.